2021 (Full Year) Japan: Best-Selling Car Brands and Market Analysis

In 2021 Toyota remained by far the best-selling car brand in Japan. Market analysis showed a contraction of 3.3% in vehicle sales.

In 2021 Toyota remained by far the best-selling car brand in Japan. Market analysis showed a contraction of 3.3% in vehicle sales.
© Toyota

In full-year 2021, Toyota maintained its traditional position as Japan’s largest carmaker and best-selling car brand. Toyota gained market share while Suzuki, Honda, Daihatsu, Nissan, and Mazda all maintained sales rank positions despite underperforming the broader market. The total Japanese new vehicle market contracted by 3.3% to its smallest size since 2011. Mercedes-Benz was again the best-selling foreign car brand in Japan in 2021. The Toyota Yaris was the most-popular car model in Japan in 2021.

Latest Japan Car Sales Statistics: 2023 — Brands, Models, Minicars; Data for 2022 – 2009.

Japan New Vehicle Market Analysis in 2021 (Full Year)

Total new motorized vehicle registrations in Japan in 2021 (January to December) contracted by 3.2% to 4,448,340 vehicles. The number includes the following major vehicle categories:

Category20212020% 20/21
Passenger Cars2,399,8622,478,832-3.2
Mini Cars1,275,8361,331,149-4.2
Commercial Vehicles389,076392,361-0.8
Mini Commercial Vehicles376,686386,9392.6
Buses6,8809,334-26.3
Total Vehicles4,448,3404,598,615-3.3

The moderate contraction in the Japanese new car market in 2021 was mostly due to the shortage in computer chips and other components that led to supply chain shortages and lower production. On the whole, the Japanese market performed better than many other advanced economies with Japanese carmakers also seemingly struggled less with supply issues, especially earlier in 2021.

However, the Japanese new vehicle market contracted for the third consecutive year and was at its lowest volume since 2011 (tsunami) and the third year in the last decade with total sales below 5 million vehicles. The outlook for 2022 is more positive with manufacturers having strong orders and longer delays in delivery than normal.

Annual Car Sales Volume in Japan (2008 to 2021)

New vehicle registrations in Japan have been as follows in recent years:

YearVehicle Sales% Change
20214,448,340-3.3
20204,598,615-11.5
20195,195,216-1.5
20185,272,0670.7
20175,234,1665.3
20164,970,260-1.5
20155,046,511-9.3
20145,562,8883.5
20135,375,5130.1
20125,369,72127.5
20114,210,220-15.1
20104,956,1367.5
20094,609,255-9.3
20085,082,235
Source: JADA

Best-Selling Car Brands in Japan in 2021 (Full Year)

The top-selling vehicle manufacturers in Japan during the full calendar year 2021 were as follows according to JADA statistics:

BrandSales 2021Sales 2020%20/21
Total4,448,3404,598,615-3.3
1Toyota1,424,3801,454,524-2.1
2Suzuki608,379630,842-3.6
3Honda579,771619,132-6.4
4Daihatsu572,401592,346-3.4
5Nissan451,671468,544-3.6
6Mazda157,311177,087-11.2
7Subaru101,312105,540-4.0
8Mitsubishi77,67470,28110.5
9Isuzu63,06166,748-5.5
10Hino60,01060,051-0.1
11Mercedes Benz51,77257,041-8.3
12Lexus51,11849,0594.2
13BMW35,90535,7120.5
14Volkswagen35,21536,576-3.7
15Mitsubishi Fuso32,10638,103-15.7
16Audi22,53522,3041.0
17Mini18,21120,196-9.8
18Volvo16,99716,0166.1
19Jeep14,29413,5885.2
20Peugeot12,07210,75212.3
21UD Trucks9,3409,713-3.8
22Renault7,6665,96428.5
23Porsche7,0097,284-3.8
24Fiat6,9955,89118.7
25Citroen5,8945,03117.2
Source: JADA

Top-Selling Car Brands in Japan in 2021 (Full Year)

There were hardly any changes in the relative sales rank order of the top 25 best-selling car brands in Japan in 2021. The only changes were BMW and Mitsubishi Fuso swapping sales positions, as did Renault and Porsche.

Toyota maintained its customary top position as Japan’s largest carmaker by far in 2021. Toyota once again gained market share with sales down 2.1% — a percentage less than the broader market. However, for the second consecutive year, Toyota sold fewer than 1.5 million vehicles in Japan in a single year. Japan’s four favorite car models in 2021 were all produced by Toyota.

With the exception of Mitsubishi, all the top ten largest car brands in Japan had weaker sales in Japan in 2021. Toyota and Hino (a heavy commercial vehicle manufacturer in the Toyota Group) gained market share. Mazda was the worst-performing major Japanese brand while Honda continued to lose market share too. The Honda N-Box remained the best-selling minicar in Japan in 2021.

Mercedes-Benz remained the largest foreign car brand in Japan and the most popular luxury car marque despite weaker sales. Lexus just failed to catch up while BMW also had stronger sales in Japan in 2021. Imported brands mostly gained sales in Japan in 2021 but the overall numbers for foreign marques remained very low compared to the Japanese brands.

Lower down the ranks, Ferrari increased sales in Japan in 2021 to 1,237 (+14%) cars while Bugatti doubled sales for. the second consecutive year from two to four.

Latest Japan Car Sales Statistics: 2023 — Brands, Models, Minicars; Data for 2022 – 2009.